Weekly price range:
Max. persons:
Your selection:
We use cookies for a better website experience, analysis and tailored advertising. By clicking I Agree you consent to the use of cookies for the processing of personal data. Learn more
I agree
Imate Vilu?
Menu +385 1 222 70 50

The mystery of the small island off the coast of Dubrovnik: The curse of Lokrum

The mystery of the small island off the coast of Dubrovnik: The curse of Lokrum

The dark secret of magical Lokrum

There are few places in the world that take your breath away at first sight. One of them is certainly Lokrum. Anyone who has visited the small Croatian island off the coast of Dubrovnik will certainly return sooner or later.

The 1.600 meters long and 540 meters wide island was declared a protected natural reserve in 1964 and in 1976 it was proclaimed a special forest vegetation reserve under the protection of UNESCO. The first gardens on Lokrum were laid out by the Benedictines already in the 11th century. Today, this fairytale island is home to the largest eucalyptus collection outside of Australia and more than 853 exotic plant species.

It is not for nothing that Lokrum is considered the green oasis of the people of Dubrovnik. Here you will find miles of walking trails that lead through breathtaking nature and to several historic buildings that have been built on the island over the centuries. And if you get tired of walking, you can relax on one of the numerous beautiful beaches or enjoy delicious local liqueurs and specialties under the shade of fir trees in one of Lokrum’s restaurants.


But the idyllic Croatian island, which also served as the setting for the famous series “Game of Thrones”, is not only famous for its breathtaking beauty. Numerous stories and legends are associated with it.

According to one legend, the English king Richard the Lionheart found refuge on Lokrum in 1192. On his voyage home from the Crusades, Richard’s ship ran into great distress during a storm, but the crew managed to escape to the small Croatian island just in time. In gratitude, Richard promised to build a church on the island. He kept his promise only partially, as he financed the construction of a church in Dubrovnik instead.

But one of the most famous legends is certainly that of the curse of the Benedictines. According to legend, in 1023 a great fire broke out in Dubrovnik. The frightened residents promised Saint Benedict that they would build a monastery in his name if he saved them from the fire. Miraculously, the fire was extinguished.


The inhabitants of Dubrovnik kept their promise and built a Benedictine monastery and church on Lokrum. The “Black Benedictines”, as the people of Dubrovnik called them because of their black attire, lived on the island for several centuries.

However, in the 18th century the closure of the monastery and the expulsion of the Benedictines were ordered after Lokrum was sold to some wealthy residents of Dubrovnik. The monks were horrified. According to legend, in the night before their departure they gathered to celebrate Holy Mass on Lokrum for the last time. After Mass, they formed a procession, pulled their hoods over their heads, lit candles, which they held upside down, and walked around the island three times, leaving a trail of wax. In doing so, they cursed anyone who tried to steal their island away from them. “Cursed be everyone who acquires Lokrum for his own purposes” the monks said that night according to legend.

There may actually be some truth to this curse, as several deaths and tragedies are associated with this legend. Three nobles from Dubrovnik who suggested to the Dubrovnik Senate that the Benedictines should leave Lokrum died first. One was killed by his servant, the second drowned, and the third jumped to his death from a fortress. The curse of Lokrum is said to have also affected the family of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. His young brother, Archduke Maximilian, bought the island in the 19th century and wanted to turn it into a summer residence for himself and his wife.


Some time later he was proclaimed king of Mexico, but was betrayed there by his close friend and executed by a firing squad. His wife, Archduchess Charlotte, who lived on Lokrum, went completely insane.

Are stories like these perhaps the real reason why all visitors have to leave Lokrum by 9 p.m at the latest? Find the answer out for yourself and plan a trip to Dubrovnik and Lokrum now. My Istria will help you find the right villa near Dubrovnik for you.

Marina Zelic

+385 1 222 70 50